Just when you think you have all the answers in the Kevin Love trade saga, the Chicago Bulls change the question.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been widely seen as the front-runners to land the Minnesota Timberwolves star, with the only major hangup being whether or not they'd include Andrew Wiggins in a deal.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reported that the Cavs are close to reaching a deal with the rookie forward, which would make him unavailable to trade for 30 days:
#Cavs expect to receive Andrew Wiggins' signed contract paperwork on Thursday. Thus will begin 30-day clock when he can't be traded.— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) July 23, 2014
Although this hurts Cleveland's leverage in the short-term, it was the best decision to make. If everything falls through, at least the team has Wiggins signed to a team-friendly rookie deal. Hearing his name thrown around in trade talks probably has somewhat of an effect on the former Kansas star, but now he can at least count on having a place on the Cavs at the very least.
Cavaliers head coach David Blatt has tried to help Wiggins out as much as he can by disregarding any Love trade rumors, per Chris Fedor of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:
Rumors are rumors. That's why they call them rumors. Sooner or later in one's career you're going to have to deal with it. If (Andrew) has to deal with it now then so be it. It's summer league. He's learning everything as he's going along.
Blatt added that he hadn't spoken to his player about the organization's behind-the-scenes machinations.
"It doesn't mean anything, at least not right now," said the 55-year-old.
With Wiggins' impressive summer league, Cleveland likely became a little more hesitant to part with him before he's even played a regular-season NBA game.
With the Cavs ruminating, the Bulls are inserting themselves into the discussion. According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago will dangle Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott as trade chips in order to expedite a trade:
According to the source, Timberwolves reached out to Bulls last night to let them know Cavs offer was best on the table ...— Sun-Times Basketball (@suntimes_hoops) July 23, 2014
.... Gar Forman played poker face for about 12 hours, and then pushed all the chips in this morning. Confirmed Taj and McDermott ...— Sun-Times Basketball (@suntimes_hoops) July 23, 2014
... as well as "other assets.'' Mirotic is still unconfirmed.— Sun-Times Basketball (@suntimes_hoops) July 23, 2014
As Lloyd pointed out, though, the Bulls would be under the same 30-day moratorium with McDermott, who signed his rookie deal on Tuesday:
This 30-day clock is a fascinating twist in these trade scenarios. Bulls are under it, too, after signing McDermott on Tuesday— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) July 23, 2014
This opens the door for another team to get its ducks in a row and present the Timberwolves with a trade package. Between the high asking price and Love's early-termination option, though, potential suitors may be a bit harder to find.
One team prepared to take itself out of the running is the Boston Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reported that Boston has come to the conclusion that it likely won't land Love but could act as a third party to get a trade done:
'The more teams step up and show interest in Love, the further Boston falls in the pack,' a source said on Wednesday. 'Danny's a smart guy. He knows when to keep pushing for something and when to move on.'
That's why the Celtics are reportedly among the clubs to express some interest in being a third team to help facilitate a trade involving Love to what one source said has become his "preferred" destination, Cleveland.
Since the Celtics don't have a wealth of assets they could offer Minnesota, this scenario makes a lot of sense. By helping the trade happen, Boston could end up still getting a nice piece or two for its rebuild, or at the very least, grab some expiring contracts to free up cap space for next season.
The biggest takeaway at this point is that whatever the Timberwolves work out with another team, it's still at least a month away, when McDermott's and Wiggins' 30-day moratoriums are over. Somebody else other than the Bulls or Cavs could step in, but at the moment, Chicago and Cleveland are the two most realistic landing spots.